It’s the third Saturday of the month, and we have the soup event organized by Wendy! Guess what? This month yours truly is hosting, and I chose as my theme French Soups… Why? Because we’ve had so many great soups while living in Paris. Yes, French Onion soup is a classic, and I am sure someone in our group will feature it in a blog post, but one very fond memory I have is a fennel soup I enjoyed very late at night in a bistrot near our apartment, Le Café du Marché. It was comforting, soothing, luscious, yet it seemed so simple. On a side note, the word for fennel in French is a tricky one for me to pronounce, so I would always get in to hyperventilation mode when ordering anything in a menu containing it. Once you get traumatized by a word, it’s pretty hard to overcome the anxiety to say it out loud. But, I digress. This (deep breath) fenouil soup is wonderful! If one day I materialize my desire of serving soup shots for guests as they enter our home for a dinner party, this will be in their little cups.
FENNEL SOUP WITH ALMOND-MINT TOPPING
(adapted from Cooking Light)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 medium size fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
1 shallot, chopped cup chopped onion
black pepper to taste
2 ½ to 3 cups water
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (about 7.5 ounces)
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
3 tablespoons small fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon fresh fennel tops, minced
lemon rind to taste
Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add fennel, shallots and celery, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, cook for a couple of minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan and cook 6 minutes or until crisp-tender (do not brown), stirring occasionally.
Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, a little black pepper, 2 ½ cups water, white wine vinegar, and beans. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Transfer the contents to a blender and puree until smooth. If needed, do it in two batches. Taste and adjust seasoning. If soup seems too thick, add a little more water.
For the topping, combine almonds, mint, fennel tops, and lemon zest. Ladle soup in bowls, and top with the crunchy almond mixture.
Comments: The original recipe from Cooking Light used a full can of beans, but I held back a little, felt that it could overpower the delicate fennel taste. I really like the way my soup turned out, it was creamy, with just a subtle hint of the cannelini around, the main flavor of fennel definitely shinning through. As to the topping, you can use a heavy hand as in the first photo, or add just a touch. Whatever rocks your boat…
Click on the InLinkz below, and get ready to fly to France!
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